For personal use and select distribution only © by Addmom

DISCLAIMER: "Emergency!" and its characters © Mark VII Productions, Inc. and Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

The poems and songs used in this story do not belong to me. I have indicated the singer/writer of each one.

No infringement of any copyrights or trademarks is intended or should be inferred. This is a work of fiction, and any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental. This story is only written for entertainment. No financial gain is being realized from it. The story, itself, is the property of the author. Please ask before archiving elsewhere and/or using characters created by the author.

I am in no way connected to the medical profession and take responsibility for all mistakes in dealing with treatments, diseases, etc.

Joys and Heartaches

November, 1983

Everyone was once again gathered at the Gage ranch for Thanksgiving and to celebrate Brandon Stoker’s graduation from the Fire Academy. He had graduated at the top of his class. It was unusually warm for November and they had decided to have the festivities outside.

Johnny and Roy were walking back from the barn when Johnny noticed that Nicole had a strange look on her face and went to sit down. He knew what that look meant—he had seen it before. Without a word he took off on a run towards Nicole. His actions got the attention of everyone present. He made it across the yard in record time. “Nicole, do I call a squad or go in the car?”

“Well, my water broke and the contractions are hard—I think you’d better call a squad and be prepared to help deliver your kids.” Nicole was glad that Johnny knew without a lot of fuss what was going on.

“Dr. Brackett, can you get your bag? Roy, will you call for an ambulance? Joanne, will you grab some clean towels and a couple of blankets out of the backroom?” Johnny didn’t stop to explain to anyone, he just asked.

Dixie was the first one to reach the Gages. “How close are the contractions?”

“About eight minutes apart.” Nicole knew they probably would have at least one of the babies in the back of the ambulance if not before with the others close behind.

“ You are just like Johnny. You don’t do anything in a small way do you?” Dr. Brackett had realized as soon as Johnny asked him to get his bag what was going on.

“Nope, I have to keep all of you on your toes and make sure you don’t forget anything.” Nicole tried to smile but was caught in the grip of another contraction.

Thankfully, everyone else realized that Nicole was in labor, too. Roy had called for an ambulance and Joanne brought the towels and blankets. With Roy’s and Dr. Brackett’s help, Johnny was able to lay Nicole down on the blanket Dixie and Joanne had spread out on the ground. Covering Nicole up with the other one, Johnny stepped out of the way so that Dr. Brackett could complete his examination.

“Well, I hope that ambulance gets here soon. These babies are going to be here soon and I really would prefer it was at the hospital—not here or in the ambulance.” Dr. Brackett smiled at Nicole.

“Well, these kids have their father’s disposition—I think they are going to be full of energy and rebellious. They are going to do things in their own time.” Nicole laughed at the look on Johnny’s face and then grimaced. The contractions were getting harder and closer together.

With a sigh of relief, Chet met the squad and ambulance and directed them to the back. Bob Bellingham and Craig Brice brought over their equipment for Dr. Brackett to use and then just stepped back as Brackett, Dixie, Joe Early and Mike Morton got Nicole ready for transport.

As the ambulance pulled out with Dr. Brackett in the back and Johnny in the front, Chet, Kimberly, Marco and Rebecca offered to round up all the kids, get them cleaned up and bring them to Rampart a little later. Mike, Beth, Roy, Joanne, Hank and Emily headed towards Rampart.

Three hours later Johnny was sitting next to Nicole’s bed watching her sleep. The ordeal in the emergency room had worn Nicole out. The first baby was born just after they had gotten Nicole into a treatment room. After that things had gotten a little hectic. Johnny was sure that she didn’t remember that instead of the twins they had been expecting, they had triplets and that all three babies were healthy and weighed at least five and a-half pounds each. They were all going to make it—including Nicole. Johnny prayed a silent prayer of thanks that Nicole’s bleeding had only been from one of the kids pushing a little too hard to get out and causing a slight tear that was repairable.

Nicole stirred and saw her husband deep in thought. “Hey, daddy, how are you doing?”

Johnny’s face lit up. “I’m doing great. I’m really like the sound of the word daddy and now I have three more little ones to call me that. How are you doing mommy?”

“I’m sore but I couldn’t be happier. When do I get to see our precious angels?” Nicole didn’t catch on when Johnny said three.

“They will be here soon, but I wondered if you would remember everything that happened in emergency.”

“What happened? Johnny, is there a problem with one of the babies? Did one not make it?” Nicole was starting to get upset.

Johnny stood up and sat on the edge of her bed. “No honey, all the babies are fine—all three of them.”

“Well, if both of them are---did you say THREE?”

“Yeah, you were pretty tired and the pain medicine was kicking in by the time the third one came, but you did great. Then you fell asleep. They repaired the tear that one of them caused during birth, but you and our children are fine. We have two more daughters and another son.”

As if that was their cue, Joanne, Roy, and Dixie entered the room each pushing a hospital baby crib. Chet carrying Melinda and Marco carrying Melanie were next. Hank, and Chief McConnikee followed. Mike and Beth were each pushing “twin” strollers. Chris and Jenny brought up the rear.

“Well, Cap, are you trying to populate the world all by yourself?” Chet was happy for his friends. “You’ve got a good start if you are.”

“Hi, everyone. No, Chet, we aren’t, but it seems that we don’t ever do things in a small way.” Nicole smiled as Roy and Joanne placed the babies they were pushing into her arms and Dixie placed the baby she was pushing into Johnny’s arms as everyone joined the laughter.

“What are you going to name this group?” Mike was almost as proud as Johnny.

“Yeah, what are you going to name this group?” Dr. Brackett had joined the group.

Nicole looked at the girl asleep in her right arm. “This is Melissa Ruth. This little guy is Mark Raymond.”

Johnny looked at the little girl he was holding. “And this little girl is Michelle Rose.”

“Now we have three more reasons to be thankful for today. It was one of the best Thanksgivings we have ever had.” Jenny was happy she had three more “cousins.”

December 1983

Christmas was full of love, joy and noise as the whole “Station 51” family celebrated together at the Gage ranch. Brandon had been assigned to Johnny’s station as a fire fighter and would start his paramedic training April. Life had finally settled into a “quiet” routine. As they looked forward to the New Year, no one had any inkling of the tragedies and joys that would await them in the coming year.

February, 1984

Johnny had really hoped that the second time Kimberly was due to deliver Chet would be calmer, but it seemed to be jus the opposite. Chet was even more of a basket case than he was the first time. As it grew closer to Kimberly’s due date, Chet couldn’t light between runs. Johnny had never thought he would rather have back to back runs even with all the paperwork, but he was praying they would have an extra busy shift to keep Chet from thinking about Kimberly and worrying. So he was thankful when the tones sounded even before they had a chance to complete roll call. Kimberly was due any day now and Chet was almost unbearable to have around. He was always pacing and if it weren’t for the rest of the members of the crew, he would be on the phone constantly calling her. It would almost be funny if it was any other crew, but Johnny was working hard to keep Chet in line.

It was dinner time before the crew had even enough time to get a drink and sit down. They were halfway through dinner when Chet started worrying about Kimberly. Chet had just started wondering out loud about Kimberly when the tones went off for Station 14. Everyone listened as the call was outlined. It was when Chet heard his address given for a woman in labor that he jumped from his seat. The rest of the crew was close behind.

“Chet, we’ll take the engine and squad and meet them at Rampart. I’ll call LA for a replacement for you to meet us at Rampart.” Johnny knew that Chet wasn’t going to be any good the rest of the shift.

“Thanks, Johnny.” Chet momentarily forgot that Johnny was his boss instead of just his friend. Johnny just shook his head as Chet almost left the rest of the engine crew in his hurry to get to Rampart.

It was only two hours later that Chet entered the lounge to find the rest of his shift mates as well as the crews of stations 14 and 24 waiting for word. The smile on his face could have lit up all of L.A. as he presented Kenneth and Larissa Kelly, his twins to his “family”.

“See it was a piece of cake, Cap.” Chet was beaming from ear to ear as he presented his family to Johnny and the rest of the crew. “I wasn’t worried about anything. I knew that everything was going to be ok.”

“Sure, Chet, a piece of cake.” Johnny was the first one to break out laughing at his friend. “They’re beautiful, Chet.”


May, 1984

He kept an eye out from his van down the street and watched the building. He had been moving closer each day and now he was within striking distance. The wait this time had been longer, but it was because he wanted both of them instead of just one. It would be worth the wait. He was almost giddy with anticipation. But it wouldn’t be long before he would have what he wanted – he just needed to wait until the time was right – and it looked like the time was now.

The distraction was perfect—even better than anything he could have planned. He was able to get in and grab his prizes undetected. Now all he had to do was to take them home and arrange them in the perfect place. He was on cloud nine.


Johnny had traded shifts so he could go with Nicole to the triplet’s sixth month checkup. He loved watching his kids grow and each set had brought their own challenges. Having nine kids under the age of five had its challenges, too. But Mayan had surprised both Nicole and Johnny and was a big help with all the kids. Johnny wouldn’t trade his life for the world.

Roy and Joanne had been pleasantly surprised when Johnny and Nicole offered to take care of Jason and Crystal and let them have an afternoon to themselves. The DeSotos had only been gone fifteen minutes when the phone call came that would change all of their lives forever.

Johnny picked up the phone while Nicole was feeding the kids their lunch. She watched as Johnny listened to whoever was on the other end of the line. Her concern grew as she listened to his side of the conversation and saw the color drain from Johnny’s face. “Hello. —This is John Gage. —What? —When?—Are you sure? —Ok, we’ll be there as soon as we can. —Thank you, Goodbye.”

As he hung up the phone and dropped into the closest chair, Nicole was on her knees at his side. “Honey, who was that? What’s wrong?” Nicole was worried about her husband.

It was twenty minutes later when Mrs. Anthanar, the neighbor lady, was watching the Gage kids. Her teenaged daughter, Tina, who had been home from school because of a doctor’s appointment, had taken Jason and Crystal to the DeSoto home to watch.


The ride back to the Gage home was quiet. Johnny and Nicole were both lost in their own thoughts. As they neared the DeSoto home, they watched in horror as they saw Jason DeSoto fall from the tree in the DeSoto’s front yard. They each only had an instant to wonder where Tina was and why Jason was climbing the tree he had been specifically told not to climb. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. By the time Jason had hit the ground Johnny had slammed on the brakes and thrown the Land Rover into park. Nicole gasped as both of them were out of the vehicle before it had even come to a complete stop.

Johnny’s stomach was in a huge knot as he saw the stick that had punctured Jason’s left thigh and the unnatural angle his right arm was positioned in. His paramedic training kicked in and the mask he needed to handle the situation was firmly in place. As he started his examination of Jason, he found the bump on the back of his head that was probably the cause of his unconsciousness. While he worked, Johnny prayed that Jason would be alright. “Nicole, grab the towels and blanket from the back of the rover and then run inside and call for a squad and ambulance.” He knew that Nicole was as afraid for Jason as he was. All thoughts about what had transpired just a little over an hour ago were pushed out of their minds as both worked to help Jason.

Johnny took the towels that Nicole had handed him and wrapped them around the stick. He wanted to remove it, but knew that if he did, Jason would bleed out before they could get him to the hospital. When he had the towels packed tightly around the leg wound and stick he used the gauze out of the medical kit that Nicole had also grabbed from the back of the Land Rover. He silently thanked Nicole for thinking ahead. After he had the bleeding from the puncture wound under control, he grabbed a splint out of kit and set Jason’s arm. Concern filled his heart as during this whole time, Jason responded to the pain, but did not show any signs of regaining consciousness. In the back of his mind, Johnny wondered where Tina and Crystal were.

Nicole had run inside only to find Tina on the phone while Crystal was sobbing and trying to get the girl to pay attention to her. Nicole picked Crystal up in one arm while grabbing the phone from Tina with her free hand. She quickly disconnected the call and dialed 911 while ignoring Tina’s angry protests at having her call interrupted.

As Tina listened to what Nicole was telling the 911 operator, the color drained from her face. She looked at the clock and realized that she had been at the DeSoto home for over two and a half hours and had been on the phone the whole time. A small voice at the back of her mind reminded her that at one point in her conversation with her friend, she had heard Jason ask if he could go outside and climb the tree. She knew that she had said yes to get him and his sister out of her hair so they wouldn’t keep interrupting her conversation. When she had called Carmen, it was supposed to be for only two minutes to update her on their homework. But they had started talking and she had lost track of time. Now Jason was seriously hurt and it was all her fault.

Tina also knew that this would be the last time she would ever baby-sit for either the DeSotos or Gages again. She had been thrilled when her mother had been able to convince the Gages that she would be dependable enough to take care of the DeSoto kids. She had really blown it twice before when something similar happened. Thankfully both those times, however, the kids were only left unchanged and unfed. When it had happened once at the Gages and once at the DeSotos, they had not asked her to baby-sit for them again. She had determined to gain back their confidence this time and now she had blown it again and this time had ended with serious consequences.

It seemed like an eternity, but it was really only a couple of minutes before Nicole was back with more towels for Johnny. He gratefully took them and wrapped them around the already blood soaked towels he had put on previously. Nicole sat down next to Jason and handed Crystal to Johnny. As Jason started thrashing about, Nicole grabbed his good hand and sat down next to him. She carefully pulled his head into her lap and started quietly singing in his ear. Johnny smiled as Jason settled down much like he knew he always did when he was injured and Nicole would sing to him.

“Where is the squad?” Johnny knew that every second counted. The stick that had punctured Jason’s leg must have hit an artery because they were having a hard time controlling the bleeding. He just prayed that it wouldn’t bleed too much before they could get him to the hospital.

“They’ll be here. I had to pull the phone out of Tina’s hand and hang up on the friend she was talking to. Don’t worry, honey, they’ll be here.” Nicole knew how worried Johnny really was.

As if on cue, the sirens could be heard getting closer. Johnny was relieved when Steve Shively and Paul Samms arrived with all their equipment. Steve knelt next to Johnny. “What do you have, Captain Gage?” Johnny was glad that the DeSotos and Gages had put each other on as having authorization for giving approval for medical treatment. They wouldn’t have to waste time trying to find Roy and Joanne.

Johnny filled Steve and Paul in on what he and Nicole had witnessed and Jason’s vital signs. Just as Paul finished starting the IV, Jason began to stir. The first person he saw was Johnny.

“Unca Johnny, hurts bad.”

“I know, Sport, but Paul and Steve are taking excellent care of you.”

“I sorry, Unca Johnny. I know you and Daddy said not to climb this tree and not to climb unless you are here.”

“It’s ok, Sport, we’ll worry about that later.”

“Will you ride in the am’lance with me, please, Unca Johnny?” Jason was getting agitated again. “I’m scared. Please, Unca Johnny.”

After getting a confirming nod from Paul, Johnny squeezed the little boy’s hand. “Of course I will.” He was glad to see that Jason settled down just before he once again lost his fight with consciousness.


Nicole had followed the ambulance in the Land Rover. Mrs. Anthanar had seen the emergency vehicles and had come over to see what was happening. She took Crystal and Tina back to the Gage home when she found out that her daughter had not been paying attention to the kids she was in charge of. To say she was angry with Tina was an understatement. She assured Nicole that when Jenny, Chris and Mayan arrived home from school, they would all head for the hospital. Meanwhile she was going to deal with Tina.

It was only when they had delivered Jason to the capable hands of Dr. Brackett that Johnny and Nicole realized they were covered in Jason’s blood. Johnny had gotten it all over his clothes when he was treating Jason. Nicole had gotten on her clothes when she was calming the little boy down. They didn’t want Joanne and Roy to see them with Jason’s blood on their clothes. They were relieved when Dixie led them to the doctor’s locker room so they could take a shower and change into scrubs. They were still getting cleaned up when Roy and Joanne arrived at the hospital


Roy and Joanne rushed over to the nurses’ desk hoping to find a familiar face. Roy sighed with relief when he saw Dixie sitting at the desk. “Where’s Jason? How is he?”

“He’s in two. Kel and Joe are getting him ready for surgery. When he fell a stick punctured the artery in his left thigh. He broke his right arm and has a concussion. But he is going to be alright. He had regained consciousness.”

“Can we see him before they take him to surgery?” Joanne wanted to see for herself that Jason was really ok.’

“Yeah, come with me.” Dixie led them into Treatment Room 2. Both parents were relived when the first thing they heard when they entered the room was their son’s voice.

“Mommy, Daddy, I sorry I ‘roke the rules.”

“We’ll talk about that later. You just be a good boy for Dr. Brackett and we will see you when you wake up. We’ll be waiting for you.” Roy kissed his son and stepped aside for his wife to do the same. He was not surprised to see Jason had already lost the fight to stay awake. He knew that Dr. Brackett would have put some medicine in Jason’s IV to prepare him for surgery. After they followed the gurney to the elevator and watched as the doors closed, Roy and Joanne turned back to head to the doctor’s lounge to begin their wait.

Just before they entered the doctor’s lounge, Roy heard his name being called. He looked up to see the Kellys, Lopezs, Stokers and Stanleys headed their way. He smiled to himself. Johnny must have called at least one of them and that one called the others. The support of his “family” was heartwarming.

But then he stopped to think about the reason they were there. Where were Johnny and Nicole while Jason was out climbing the tree that both he and Johnny had adamantly told Jason he should never climb even if they were around? They were supposed to be watching the kids. He opened the lounge door to see if they were waiting inside. His anger began to grow as he saw the empty room. Not only were they not watching Jason like they should, now they were no where to be found.

Dixie entered the room to make sure there was fresh coffee for the crew she had seen headed down the hall. She was surprised at the look of anger on Roy’s face. Before she had a chance to ask him what was wrong, he turned to her.

“Where are Johnny and Nicole?” Roy’s voice was tinged with the anger he was feeling. Everyone stepped back at the vehemence in his voice.

Before Dixie could answer, Johnny and Nicole opened the door. Johnny was taken aback at what he heard next, but he felt they deserved it.

“Where were you when Jason was climbing that tree? You were supposed to be watching him. You have told him as many times as I have that he is not to climb that tree.” Roy’s voice held the anger that Johnny felt he deserved. Roy was right. They were supposed to be watching Jason and Crystal. But they did have a good reason why they weren’t there when it happened.

Before Johnny could say anything, the door to the lounge opened once again admitting Dr. Early, Paul and Steve. Not knowing what was transpiring in the lounge, Paul looked over at Johnny. “We are sure glad you were there to start treatment as soon as you did. If you hadn’t been, Jason would have never made it to the hospital.”

Dr. Early was also oblivious to the tension in the room. “Paul’s right, Johnny. If it wasn’t for you, Jason would be dead right now. But thanks to you he will not only survive to give Roy and Joanne more gray hairs, but he will make a 100% recovery.”

There was a silence in the room for a few seconds, but it was not noticed by the paramedic team that was called out on another run. Nor was it noticed by the doctor who grabbed a cup of coffee and went to answer the page that was echoing over the hospital intercom.

Roy was the one to break the silence. “Jason wouldn’t have even needed your help if you had been watching him like you were supposed to be. I think you’d both better leave right now. You are not welcomed here.” The anger was still evident in his voice.

Roy had fully expected Johnny to go on the defensive and yell back at him, but when the couple turned and started to leave without saying a word, Roy knew something else was going on. He also remembered another time he had unjustly accused his friends of not caring about his kids. Johnny and Nicole deserved a chance to explain what had happened.

Johnny was just opening the door when Roy put his hand on Johnny’s shoulder to stop him. “Johnny, I’m sorry. We don’t want you to leave. We know you love our kids as much as you do your own. Please tell us what happened.”

Johnny turned to Roy with tear filled eyes. Roy had not really noticed the sadness that was evident on both Nicole and Johnny’s faces. He knew that there was something terribly wrong.

Before Johnny had a chance to answer the lounge door opened again. This time Mrs. Anthanar, Tina, Jenny and Chris entered with the Gage children and Crystal. Mrs. Anthanar guided Tina over to the Gages and DeSotos. “Mr. Gage, Mr. DeSoto, Tina has something she wants to say to all of you.”

Tina turned to look at her mother with trepidation in her eyes. But seeing the determined look on her mother’s face, Tina knew she needed to do what her mother said. The tears were streaming down her face by the time she found her voice. “Mr. and Mrs. Gage, I am so sorry. I know you were reluctant to let me baby-sit and you only agreed to it because I promised I wouldn’t let you down and you had that emergency and couldn’t find anyone else. I only meant to be on the phone for two minutes while I gave Carmen the homework assignments she missed last week. But then we started talking and I lost all track of time. When Jason asked if he and Crystal could go outside and climb the tree, I wasn’t really paying attention to what they were saying. I just knew it was a way to get them out of my hair so I could finish my conversation. I thought I would be done before they even had a chance to get out the door. I know I won’t ever be asked to baby-sit for either of your families again. Once word gets out about this I know I won’t ever baby-sit again. I know it doesn’t make what happened alright, but I really am sorry and have learned my lesson from this. How is Jason? Is he going to be ok?”

Roy had listened carefully to what Tina had said. It was the word emergency that stuck out in his mind. “Jason is in surgery right now, but the doctors assure us he will make a 100% recovery.”

“I would like to help take care of Jason when he comes home. I would only help when either Mrs. DeSoto or Mrs. Gage were around. This is all my fault and I really would like to help.” Tina just prayed that she would be able to show how sorry she really was.

Roy was still thinking about what the girl had said about Johnny and Nicole having an emergency. “That’s up to Mrs. DeSoto.” He only vaguely heard Joanne agree to let Tina help out but only when she or Nicole was there. There had to be something really wrong for Johnny and Nicole to let Tina baby-sit. He turned to Johnny.

But before Roy could ask Johnny about the emergency, the lounge door opened again. He sighed. At this rate, he was never going to find out what was going on with his friends. He was surprised when it was Vince that entered the room.

“Johnny, Nicole, can I talk to you for a minute.” Vince had heard about Jason’s accident, but he really needed to talk to the Gages right away. “In private.”

Johnny looked at Nicole and received a slight nod. He knew that what Vince had to tell them would soon be public knowledge, so he saw no reason to leave the room. “Vince, everyone here is family. Anything you say to us can be said in front of them.”

“I needed to let you know the story will be on the 6:00 news. We tried to keep it out of the news for a day or so but were unsuccessful.” Anything else Vince would have said was forgotten as his radio came to life sending him on a call.

Roy opened his mouth to ask what was going on as the teasers for the evening news came on. Everyone stopped when it was stated that the “baby doll” killer had struck again. The “baby doll” killer was a serial killer that had been kidnapping and killing little girls for about a month. He got his name because he would always leave a baby doll where he kidnapped the little girls. None of his victims had ever been found alive. Roy sent up a silent prayer for the parents of the latest victim. His crew had been unfortunate enough to find two of the killer’s seven victims and Johnny’s crew had found two others. He wouldn’t want anyone he knew to go through what he imagined the parents of those little girls had gone through and now there was another mother and father out there that had to face this unthinkable nightmare. Roy turned to ask his friend once again what was going on.

But he never got the chance. Someone had turned the volume on the TV up a little more so they could hear the story about the “baby doll” killer. Just as Roy opened his mouth to ask his question, the story came on.

“This is Mary Abbott. The ‘baby doll’ killer has struck again. However, this time instead of one victim, he has taken two. This morning at 11:15 a.m., Melinda and Melanie Gage, five-year old twin daughters of Fire Captain John Gage and his wife, Nicole, were kidnapped during recess at the nursery school they attend. The two little girls were playing in a corner of the playground that was closest to the road. Two of their playmates had just gone to get balls for the four children to play with. A fight broke out between two little boys which drew the attention of all the school adult personnel. It is believed that it was during this time that the ‘baby doll’ killer somehow got the two little girls. When their friends returned, instead of the twins they found the two baby dolls. A press conference is expected to be held in a couple of days. If you saw anything unusual in that area or have any information regarding this kidnapping, please contact police immediately. But the story doesn’t end there. We have more from our roving reporter, Tom Wilcox. Tom?”

Everyone wondered what Mary meant. Vince had just been there and he would have told them if there was any news. He hadn’t mentioned a thing. Maybe something had happened that he hadn’t known about. But how could the news people know if Vince didn’t? All eyes were glued to the TV set as a picture came on of Johnny working on Jason and Nicole running for the house to call 911. There wasn’t a sound as the reporter started his story.

“Mary, after Captain and Mrs. Gage left the police station, they were returning home when they saw their neighbor’s young son fall out of a tree in his front yard. The Gages stopped and immediately began treating the little boy’s injuries. As you can see, Captain Gage stayed with the little boy and even rode to the hospital with him in the ambulance.”

“Tom, have you been able to find out anything about the little boy’s condition?”

“Not yet, Mary, we are still trying to find out that information.”

“Tom, how did you find out about the little boy’s accident?”

“We were at the police station when the report about the Gage twins’ kidnapping was received. Not getting an opportunity to talk to the Gages at the station, we drove out to their home to see if we could get a statement from them. That’s how we came upon the scene in their neighbors’ yard.”

“Tom, we did some checking and found out that the little boy was the son of another Fire Captain. He is the son of Captain Roy DeSoto and his wife, Joanne. Captain DeSoto and Captain Gage were one of the first paramedic teams in the country and are both still certified paramedics. By several accounts, they were the best team we have ever had. I think that the fact that Captain Gage pushed his own pain aside and stayed with the boy shows how much he cares about others. He could have let the paramedics who arrived on the scene handle the situation after they arrived, but he didn’t. And his wife was right beside them. The prayers of all of us here at the station as well as all of the residents of LA are with the Gages at this time. Again, if you have any information about this kidnapping, please contact the local authorities immediately.”

Johnny turned sad eyes to Roy. “I’m sorry, Roy.”

“What are you sorry for, Johnny?”

“That report is likely to bring all kinds of media attention that none of us need or want right now. I’m just sorry that your name was mentioned. Now you are going to have reporters chasing you, too.”

“Johnny, it’s alright. We are going to be there for you every step of the way and we were bound to have reporters find us. I’m just thankful you were there and Jason is going to be fine because of you.”

Nicole had prayed that all of this was just a nightmare that she would soon wake up from. But hearing it on the evening news confirmed it was a reality. The events of the day caught up with her and Johnny was able to catch her just before she hit the floor as she passed out. Roy followed Johnny out as Dixie led them to a treatment room. Roy knew that Johnny and Nicole were going to need all the support their friends and “family” could give them now. He thought back to the two victims of this killer that his crew had been unfortunate enough to find. The little girls were tortured before they were killed. Now Melanie and Melinda were in the hands of this maniac. What was Johnny thinking about right now? He, too, had seen the final condition this of maniac’s victims. How would Johnny and Nicole face the next few days? It was going to be difficult on all of them.


Jason had been moved from the recovery room to his own room. Roy and Joanne were sitting beside Jason’s bed waiting for him to wake up. Jenny was sitting in the corner rocking Crystal who had cried herself to sleep when she saw her brother with an IV, his left leg all bandaged up and a cast on his right arm. Chris was standing looking out the window praying for two little girls he had come to love as he loved his brother and sisters. The surgery had gone well and Dr. Brackett said Jason would be back to climbing trees again before they wanted him to. Roy’s mind turned to his “brother and sister”. Nicole had been admitted overnight for observation. To help keep her calm, she was put in a private room where Johnny and the kids would be with her until she was released. As Roy watched his son sleep, he wondered where Melinda and Melanie were and what they were going through right now.

Joanne was worried about her “sister”. She couldn’t imagine what it must be like knowing that your children were in the hands of a killer and worrying about them. The pain and worry she felt for the girls was unbearable. Johnny and Nicole’s grief and pain would definitely be worse. “Roy, why don’t you go and check on Johnny and Nicole? I’d really like to know how they are doing.”

“Thanks honey. I’ll be right back.” Roy kissed his wife and then headed for Nicole’s room. Opening the door, Roy smiled to himself. Dixie had arranged for cots and cribs to be brought into the room for the eight kids. He saw four rocking chairs set around the room filled with nurses feeding and holding some of the kids. Mayan and three of the others were sleeping on the cots or in the cribs. But the best sight was Nicole wrapped in Johnny’s arms on the bed—both of them sound asleep.

Dixie was sitting in the rocking chair nearest the bed holding Matthew. She saw Roy enter the room and look around. “Kel had to sedate both of them. They were fine until Nicole remembered that Johnny and his crew had found two of the other victims. She started asking Johnny what happened to the others and what condition they were in. Johnny tried to calm her down and avoid her questions. She wouldn’t let it go. The more Johnny tried to change the subject, the more agitated she became. Then the more Johnny thought about what he had seen with the two victims his crew found, the more agitated he became. Finally, Kel gave them both something to help calm them down.”

“Oh, Dix. I thought I could imagine what those parents went through when we found those two little girls. Johnny and I had talked about it and said that we wouldn’t want to have to face something like that. But now that it has happened to them and I know how much pain we all are in, I can’t imagine what they are going through. How must they be feeling?” Roy knew their friends were going to need all their help and support to get through the next few months. It was going to take all of them together because they were all hurting right now.

“I can’t imagine it either, Roy. I think we are going to have to get through all of this together.” Dixie had heard about the condition the bodies of the other victims had been found in. She had been relieved that she hadn’t seen it firsthand. What must Johnny be feeling since he did know firsthand what could happen?

“How long will they sleep?” Roy wanted to talk to the others.

“For at least three hours. Kel just sedated them ten minutes ago.” Dixie knew Roy needed the time to gather the strength he would need to face Johnny and Nicole.

“Thanks, Dix. I’ll be back in a couple of hours. I want to be here when they wake up.” Roy had wandered over to stand beside the bed. He leaned down and kissed Nicole on the forehead and squeezed Johnny’s hand before he left the room.


Chet Kelly was in shock as he listened to the news report. Two little girls that meant the world to him and his friends were now in the hands of a maniac. The thing that really bothered him was that none of the little girls this man had kidnapped before had been found alive. All he could picture in his mind was the two little girls they had been unfortunate enough to find that had been victims of this psycho. He knew he was only one of a room full of people who were praying that Melanie and Melinda would be spared the torture that the other girls had suffered and that they would be found alive. He worried about Nicole and Johnny. They would all be there for them as long as they needed them.

Mike Stoker had been relieved that his crew had not been one of the emergency crews that had found victims of this sicko. Now he was even more relieved. But he worried about Roy, Marco, and Chet. Their crews had found not one but two victims each. If he was hurting this bad and he hadn’t seen the results first hand, how were all of them feeling? And how were Johnny and Nicole feeling? He couldn’t imagine how he would have felt if it had been his daughter. One was bad enough, but the fact that both twins had been kidnapped was horrible. How could anyone do something so unthinkable to those two very special little girls?

Marco was sitting in the corner softly praying in Spanish. He, too, remembered the bodies of the two little girls their crew had found. The first one had been bad enough—it took the crew two solid shifts of discussing what they had found to come to terms with it. He would always be glad for Roy having made them talk even when they didn’t want to. But when they found the second one, it almost destroyed all of them. Johnny’s crew had found their second one just before Roy’s crew had found theirs. It was only through the efforts of Johnny and Roy bringing the two crews together and making them discuss their feelings that they were able to get through it. Now it was completely different. There were two victims at once and this time they were two little girls very special to the heart of everyone in this room—not the bodies of some unknown little girls none of them really knew.

Hank looked around the room. He had been called to each of the scenes where his crews had found the victims of this “baby doll” killer. Although he had never actually seen the condition of the little girls, he had seen enough to know it was horrible. What were Johnny and Nicole feeling right now? He knew it was going to take all of them to help Johnny and Nicole to get through the next few months. It was going to take all of them because they were all affected by this. Making a decision, Hank approached Mike Stoker.


Roy knew that Mike, Hank, Marco and Chet would still be in the doctor’s lounge waiting for word on Jason and Johnny and Nicole. But he was surprised to find all the members of all three crews and their families deep in discussion in the room. Mike was the first one to see him enter.

“Roy, how is Jason?” Mike was on his feet immediately. He knew everyone was waiting to hear about their “nephew” and their “brother and sister”.

“He’s going to be just fine. He made it through the surgery and will make a 100% recovery. Joanne, Chris, Jenny and Crystal are all there so that someone will be there when he wakes up.”

“What about Johnny and Nicole?” Chet had long ago quit trying to hide how he really felt about Johnny. “Where are their kids?”

“Dr. Brackett had to sedate them. Nicole kept asking Johnny about the little girls they had found. The more he avoided answering her, the more agitated she got. Then as Johnny really thought about them, he got really upset. So Brackett gave them both something and they are both asleep right now. Dixie said it would be about three hours before they woke up. The kids are either sleeping or being taken care of by some of the nurses.”

“Roy, we know that they are going to need all of our support. We are all going to need each other’s support. We were just discussing ways to help them and really would like your input. Can you take a few minutes and go over our ideas?” Hank had taken charge of organizing the group because he really needed something constructive to do.

“Sure, let me call Jason’s room and let Joanne know what is going on. Maybe she can come down and help, too. Chris and Jenny can be there in case Jason wakes up. They can call us here if they need to.”

So for the next hour and a half, ideas were discussed, revised, thrown out, agreed upon and a plan was developed. For a short time everyone’s mind was taken off the horror that two little girls were facing and that no one wanted to think about.


Nicole started waking up first. She had hoped that the events of this day were just a bad nightmare and she would wake up in her own bed. But as she looked around the room, she knew it was all true. ~Lord, please take care of the twins. They are in Your hands and You are in control. Please help them not to suffer. If they are going to die, please let them die quickly.~ Nicole couldn’t keep the tears from streaming down her face.

Johnny felt Nicole move in his arms. He also felt her tears as they fell onto his chest. He had wanted to protect his family from pain, but this was not something he could protect them from. Their lives had been turned upside down and inside out with one phone call. Would they get through this? It was one thing to suffer torment and abuse yourself, but to know that your child was going through it was another. Soon his tears joined Nicole’s as both parents prayed their daughters would be spared at least some of the torture and pain they knew the other little girls had gone through. They both knew that wasn’t really fair to other parents who had to face this situation, but they couldn’t help feeling the way they did.

Roy had been sitting beside the bed for the last hour praying for his “nieces” as well as Johnny and Nicole. He watched as they started to stir. It was 10:00 at night and he was glad that the Gage kids were all asleep. He was thankful for the fact that most of them were too young to understand what was going on. Mayan would need some extra attention as he dealt with losing two people he cared deeply about. The little boy had suffered a lot in his short life and had come along way, but he also cared deeply about his family. They would have to see that he was not lost in all that would transpire in the next few days.

“Hi, Roy.” Johnny had turned enough to realize that Roy was sitting beside the bed.

“Hey, Junior. How are you feeling?” Roy saw the tears running down Johnny’s face.

“I think I’m numb right now. I really don’t know how I feel. I just want to hold my girls.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you do.” Roy was at a loss for words. What could he say to make this situation be alright? Nothing—it was going to take a lot of time for things to be ok again. “Nicole, how are you doing?”

“I’m like Johnny. Right now I don’t feel anything at all. It all seems like a bad nightmare that I just want to wake up from.”

“We all wish we could tell you it was just a bad dream and that everything is going to be ok.” Dixie had walked in to hear the last bit of the conversation. She had wanted to see how upset Nicole was when she woke up.

“I know, Dixie, and we thank you all for that.” Nicole knew that there was going to be some very hard times in the next few days, but she also knew that they had “family” and friends to help them get through them. “How are the kids? What time is it?”

“They are all asleep. It is 10:00 and they were all tired. We had no trouble getting them to sleep.”

“Good. Roy, how’s Jason?” Nicole’s thoughts turned to the scene that had met them when they returned to the DeSoto home that afternoon.

“He came through surgery with flying colors. Dr. Early said he would be climbing trees again before we wanted him to. He woke up a little while ago and said to tell Johnny that he was sorry for disobeying, but he went right back to sleep and will probably sleep until morning. I want to thank both of you for being there and for what you did to help him. If it weren’t for both of you, he wouldn’t be here right now.” Roy thought of how these two special people had put their pain on hold when they had arrived home to see Jason in trouble. He prayed that all their friends would be able to help them through the trying times ahead.

“We love him like he was our own. There’s no way we wouldn’t have helped. We are just sorry it had to have happened at all.” Johnny was still feeling a little guilty that they had left Crystal and Jason in Tina’s care. Both the Gages and DeSotos had had bad experiences with her babysitting for them before. But this had been an emergency and she had pleaded to be given the chance to show them she could do it and promised nothing would happen.

“Johnny, it wasn’t your fault. I would have done the same thing if I had been in your situation. You were there when it mattered most and that is what counts.” Roy was glad he had not jumped to conclusions like he had the time Chris had gotten in trouble and he had blamed Johnny and Nicole. “Thank you for being our ‘brother and sister’.”

Nicole didn’t think she could go back to sleep as thoughts of what was happening to her daughters kept running through her mind. What she imagined was horrible, so she prayed that her imagination was worse than what was really happening. However, as Johnny and Roy talked about the ideas the group had come up with to help the Gages, she drifted back to sleep. Roy noticed first and nodded towards her to let Johnny know. Johnny smiled and wrapped his arms around her.

“Johnny, I’m going to go check on Jason. I know at least one of us will be staying here with him tonight but I am going to take the rest of them home. Is there anything you need before I go?” Roy noticed that Johnny was getting tired, too. Although they had both been sedated, he knew that both of them would be emotionally and physically tired from what they had to deal with.

“No, there’s nothing we need right now. Thanks, Roy, and thank everyone else for being here and for their support.” Johnny was surprised that he was having trouble keeping his eyes open.

“You’re more than welcome, Johnny. I’ll be here in the morning along with those who volunteered to help with the kids tomorrow. We’ll get through this.” Roy smiled as his last words fell on deaf ears. Johnny had lost his fight and was sleeping with Nicole snuggled in his arms.


“How are they, Roy?” Chet didn’t even wait for Roy to get into Jason’s room before the question was out of his mouth.

“They are both numb. Nicole said she had hoped it was just a nightmare that she would wake up from. They were both concerned about Jason. They were sleeping when I left. Dixie said she felt they would sleep until morning.” Roy smiled to himself as he thought about how much Chet had changed over the years. There was a time he wouldn’t be caught dead showing any concern at all for Johnny, but now he was one of the first ones to worry about him and he didn’t care who knew it.

“They were concerned about Jason?” Joanne didn’t think that she would be thinking about someone else’s child if she had two kids that had been kidnapped and were probably being hurt.

“Yeah, they were. I think they were feeling guilty, too, but I made sure they knew it wasn’t their fault. I let them know we are going to be here in the morning and I know they are grateful for our support.” Roy wasn’t the only one in the room who sent up a silent prayer for the entire Gage family.


It had been a week since the twins were kidnapped. There was always someone at the Gage ranch to help with the kids as well as getting out flyers, answering phone calls, and anything else they could do. As they lent their support, there were times when Johnny and Nicole needed them around and other times when they needed to be alone. It was with a heart of thanks that Johnny and Nicole realized that everyone could sense when each of these times were.

Johnny was especially thankful for his crew. Nicole had persuaded him to return to work knowing that having something to do would keep his mind off his girls. She also knew that seeing his other children all the time would continually remind him of the two missing girls. Joanne had arranged with the wives of all three crews to take Nicole away for a few hours on the days Johnny worked so that she, too, wouldn’t have to see her children every minute and be reminded that two of them were not there. They were thankful there was some there to help with the kids. Johnny and Nicole had told them about the twins’ disappearance, but they kept asking where their sisters were and when they were going to come home.

Vince smiled to himself as he drove into the Gage’s driveway and saw the number of cars there—many he recognized who they belonged to. But he lost his smile as he thought about the reason all these people were here. This was a day that A-shift was off duty and everyone had met at the Gage home. At least he could tell everyone his news at once.

Jim Standish and Bob Carden, Johnny’s paramedics, were just on their way back from the barn where they had taken care of the animals. Bob was the first one to see Vince. As he drew Jim’s attention to the officer’s presence, both men were dreading the reason for the visit. They reached the house at the same time Vince did.

“Hi Vince.” Jim knew that neither of them wanted to ask the question as to what brought Vince there because neither of them really wanted to know the answer.

“Hi, fellas.” Vince knew that they were avoiding asking the reason for his visit. He followed them into the house.

“Hi Vince.” Johnny saw the officer enter his home. Instinct made him wrap his arm around Nicole when she arrived at his side as soon as she saw Vince. Both of them had a large knot in the pit of their stomachs.

“Hi, Johnny and Nicole. I need to talk to both of you. Will you have a seat please?” He looked around the room as word had spread quickly that he was there and everyone crowded into the living room to find out what was going on.

When Johnny, Nicole and Vince had found places to sit, Vince took a deep breath. “I want you both to know that your daughters are very brave. Somehow one of them was able to dial 911 and place the telephone receiver where the 911 dispatcher could hear every thing that was going on. She was able to determine that it was your daughters and that she was listening to things going on wherever they were being held. The police were able to trace the call and pinpoint the address. However, before they could get over there, the kidnapper must have found the phone. No one was there when the police got there. The neighbors did give them a description of the van that they left in and the man driving. There is an APB out on the van and we have called in off-duty members of the force to aid in the search. We were less than five minutes behind them, so we feel confident that we will find them soon.” Vince prayed that this time the ending to this situation would be a happy one instead of the way it had ended every other time.

“Will it be in time?” Beth Stoker felt for her “brother and sister”.

“That’s why we’ve brought in every off-duty police officer we could get. LA County is covered with police officers.” Vince knew how each of the people in the room was feeling. He was feeling the same way. The Gages were very good friends of his and he loved the girls just as much as anyone else.

“Thanks Vince. Please just let us know when you hear anything.” Johnny was afraid to hope that they would find the girls alive. He knew what had happened to the other seven victims of this maniac. He didn’t dare hope that they would be the lucky ones to have their daughters found alive.

“You bet I will. And everyone at the station wanted me to let you know they are all praying for you and the girls.” Vince stood and headed towards the door.

“Thanks again Vince and thank everyone else for us.” Nicole followed Vince to the door and gave him a hug before turning and going up the stairs. She headed into the twins’ room and closed the door. She grabbed the stuffed dog and stuffed bear that were the twins’ favorite toys and lay down on the bed closest to the door. Pulling both toys to her face, she let the tears flow unchecked. As much as she wanted to believe they would find the girls alive, she couldn’t bring herself to even consider it. Johnny found her there a few minutes later. He sat down on the bed leaning against the headboard. Pulling Nicole into his arms, the tears streamed down his face.

Half an hour later, Hank found them wrapped in each others’ arms sound asleep. He quietly closed the door and left them knowing that they needed the time alone. He also knew they had not been sleeping very well since the twins had been abducted. He prayed that with the news they had just received, they would be able to get some rest.

An hour later when Mike went to tell Johnny and Nicole lunch was ready, he found them still asleep. He hated to wake them up, but he also knew they needed to keep their strength up by eating something. “Johnny, Nicole, Joanne has lunch ready.” He gently shook Johnny’s shoulder.


It had been two days since Vince had told them that they had a description on the kidnapper and the van. But the van had been found abandoned two hours after the search had begun. Somehow, somewhere the kidnapper had picked up another vehicle. There were several that had been reported stolen that day and all from a twelve block square radius of where the van had been abandoned. Johnny and Nicole knew the girls would not be found alive. They prayed for strength and began to prepare for the day they would have their fears confirmed.

A-shift was on duty. Johnny wasn’t sure whether he wanted the day to be busy so he didn’t have to think or slow so he didn’t have to be in command. He was glad when the morning started off busy. He had asked the Lord for the strength and wisdom to get through the day. That was the only way he could face each situation that came up. He found that being busy was better than sitting around all day and wondering what was happening to his daughters.

Station 51 was in house when the tones sounded for Station 24. Johnny listened as the call came sending them to a MVA. His attention was brought back to what was going on in his own station when Brandon refilled his coffee cup. “Sounds like a bad one.”

“Yeah, it does. I hope Mike and his crew don’t have too bad a time.”

“Cap, how are you doing?” Jim brought lunch over to the table. “How’s Nicole?”

“We’re making it through each day with the strength God gives us. It’s hard, but we’ll be ok. How are all of you handling this? We know that all of you care about all the children of this crew as well as the crews of station 14 and 24. We aren’t just crewmates and friends. We are family. This has to be hard on all of you, too.”

“You’re right. We do care about all the kids like they were our own. I know that I have been having nightmares. I just want to take all the kids and go somewhere to hide them so they can’t get hurt and we can protect them. No kid should have to go through what the twins might be facing.” Jim’s face turned red as he realized what he was saying. He hadn’t wanted to remind his Captain of the condition they had found those other two little girls in.

“It’s ok, Jim.” Johnny looked down at his coffee cup. A knot had formed in his stomach and was tightening. Just as he was about to call Nicole to find out if she had the same feeling, the phone rang. He knew that something had happened but he also knew it hadn’t involved Nicole, Roy or Joanne. He didn’t have time to contemplate it any more because Chet told him the phone was for him. “Hello.—Hi, honey.—Yeah, I felt it, too.—Do you really think so? Maybe you’re right.—Yeah, I’ll call you tonight so I can say goodnight to the kids. I love you.—Bye, Angel.”

An hour and a half later, the crew had just set down for lunch when Vince, Roy, Mike, Marco and Hank walked into the dayroom followed by the B-shift engineer and captain. Hank had known that it was going to take the whole original A-shift to help Johnny get through the next few days. He had called Emily and she had called Beth, Rebecca, and Kimberly. They were going to meet at the DeSoto’s and go to the Gage’s together to be there for Nicole.

The knot in Johnny’s stomach had developed a pounding rhythm that was joined by a pounding in his head as soon as he saw the group enter the room.

Roy walked over and put his hand on Johnny’s shoulder stopping him from getting up out of his seat. “Johnny, just stay there.”

“Vince, you’ve found the girls, haven’t you?” Johnny knew that Nicole had been right. The feeling of something happening they both had did have something to do with the girls.

Vince took a deep breath before he answered Johnny. He looked at the faces of all the men around him. “Yes, Johnny, we did.”

“Where? Did they suffer?” Johnny wasn’t sure he wanted to know if they had been found in the same condition as the others.

“They were in one of the vehicles at the MVA we were sent out on. They were both killed instantly. Johnny, I’m so sorry.” Mike couldn’t get the vision of the two girls out of his mind.

“At least they didn’t suffer. I need to go home and be with Nicole.” Johnny was numb. They had been expecting this, but it was just harder than he thought it would be now that it had really happened.

“That’s why Anderson and Cathman are here. Mike, Roy, Chet, Marco and I are going with you. Our wives are already at your home. But they don’t know about the twins yet. We thought you would want to be with Nicole when she finds out.” Hank realized that Johnny was numb as he just sat staring at nothing. “Come on, Roy will drive you home. We’ll get your car later.” Hank put his hand on Johnny’s shoulder to let get his attention.

Johnny just nodded as he stood. Jim ran into the locker room and got Johnny’s things from his locker. All his crew stood at the door as Roy led him out.

“Cap, we’ll all be by tomorrow. If you need anything, just call us.” Bill and Bob patted Johnny on the back as he left the station.


Nicole knew as soon as she opened the door and saw the five women standing there that the girls had been found. She also knew that they didn’t have any information to tell her. “Hi. Come on in.” She stood aside to allow the women access to her home. “To what do I owe this visit?”

“Nicole, I’m not going to lie to you. Hank called me and asked that all of us come here. He said we would all find out what was going on in a little while.” Emily felt it was best to be honest with Nicole.

“Thanks, Emily. I think they found the girls. It sure is good to have all of you here, though. It really helps.”

Rebecca and Kimberly went upstairs to play with the kids while Emily, Joanne and Beth waited with Nicole. Joanne sat with Nicole wrapped in her arms.


Johnny opened the door and walked towards Nicole. She stood and walked into his open arms. “They found the girls.”


“Mike’s crew was called out to an MVA. They were in a van that was sandwiched between two other cars. The kidnapper was drunk and so was one of the other drivers. They were hit broadside on both sides.”

“Did they suffer?” Nicole knew that both girls were gone.

“No, Russ and Greg said they were killed instantly.” Johnny finally gave in to the tears that had been threatening all the way home.

Nicole let her tears flow. Like Johnny, she had expected this but had secretly hoped they would find the girls alive.

“Johnny, do they know what they endured the last week and a half?”

“Not yet. Vince said they would let us know as soon as they could do an autopsy and find out which injuries were from the kidnapper and which ones were from the accident.”

All that could be heard for the next ten minutes were the sobs coming from everyone in the room. Nicole was the first to gain her composure. A small sad smile crossed her face as Johnny’s stomach growled. “Did you get to eat any lunch?” Her voice could barely be heard.

“No, we were just sitting down to eat when Vince and the guys arrived. But I don’t think I could eat anything.”

“It won’t do anyone any good if we let ourselves get run down or sick. Besides, I heard the kids upstairs. They are going to have to be told and we can do it while we eat and they have cookies and milk.”

“They are going to wonder why I’m home and why they are getting cookies and milk in the middle of the day.” Johnny’s tears and stopped and he had a small sad smile, too.

“Yeah, well, the only one who is really going to understand is Mayan, but we need to answer their questions. Megan and Michaela keep asking when Melanie and Melinda are coming home and Michael and Matthew keep asking where they are.”

“Let’s go face them together. Someday when they are old enough to understand, we will tell them how special their sisters were.”

“We need to be prepared for them to keep asking where they are and when they are coming home.”

“Yeah, I know.” Anything else Johnny would have said was drowned out by Rebecca, Kimberly and Mayan slowly following the quadruplets down the stairs. Rebecca was carrying Mark and Melissa while Kimberly was carrying Michelle.

Johnny and Nicole moved towards the stairs. They both needed to hold their kids in their arms right now. Nicole picked up Matthew and Michaela as they reached out for her. Johnny picked up Michael and Megan.

“Dada, dada, dada. We go play with tundder?” Michael patted Johnny’s right cheek while Megan planted wet kisses on his left cheek. He couldn’t help but have a genuine smile at the love of his children.

“We’ll ride Thunder a little bit later if we get the chance. Right now we are going to get something to eat.” Right on cue his stomach growled again.

“Mama, dada hungy. He need food. But we ated already.” Michaela giggled when she heard Johnny’s stomach.

“I know Daddy’s hungry. We are going to get him a sandwich. And because you all have been so good the last few weeks, you get to have some cookies and milk while he eats.” Nicole’s smile was genuine, too.

Rebecca and Kimberly sat the triplets in their high chairs while Nicole and Johnny sat each of the quadruplets in their booster seats. Mayan sat in the chair next to where Johnny was going to sit. He knew something had happened, but he wasn’t quite sure what.

After they had helped Nicole get the cookies and milk for the kids and something for both Johnny and Nicole, who hadn’t eaten lunch either, Rebecca and Kimberly quietly slipped out of the room to give the family the privacy they needed right now. Chet and Marco filled their wives in on what little they knew.

Roy and Joanne were standing just close enough to the kitchen door to be available if Johnny and Nicole needed them. They both were thankful they didn’t have to do what Nicole and Johnny had to do right now, but they also prayed that the Lord would give Johnny and Nicole the strength to get through it. They quietly listened as Johnny broke the news to his kids.

As Johnny took a deep breath to begin telling his children about their sisters, he sent up a silent prayer for strength and of thanks that the triplets were too young to understand anything that was going on. He smiled at Nicole as she was already “telling” Mayan that Johnny had something to tell the whole family. “Kids, I have to talk to all of you.”

“’bout what?” Matthew was the most inquisitive of the quadruplets.

“Melinda and Melanie.”

“When they comed home, dada?” Michaela missed her big sisters. She wanted them to play with her as they always did.

“That’s what we have to talk to you about. Melinda and Melanie won’t be coming home any more.” Johnny’s voice caught as he said the words that made it final.

“Why not? Don’’ they luv us anymore? I sorry.” Megan thought maybe she had done something to make her sisters mad. It seemed they were always mad at her for doing something wrong.

“They love all us very much. Do you all remember when we said that a very bad man had picked them up from their school and wasn’t letting them come home?” Johnny needed wisdom in explaining this to his children. He took the few seconds that it took for the four to nod their heads yes to swallow the lump in his throat. “Well, he was taking them somewhere in a van and two other cars hit them.”

“What do you mean, dada? But they be home soon, right?”

Something Mayan had said gave Nicole a couple of ideas. Putting her hand on Johnny’s arm to let him know she was going to try, she took a deep breath. “Kids, when those two cars hit the van Melanie and Melinda were in, the van broke just like Matthew and Michael’s toy cars did when they tried to race them down the stairs.”

“’Lanie and ‘Linda broke, too?” Michaela didn’t like what her Mommy was telling her.

“Yes, they ‘broke’, too. They had a lot of owies that the doctors couldn’t fix so God took them home to be angels. They don’t have any pain there. God wanted their laughter and their love in heaven. So they went to sleep down here and woke up in heaven with Jesus.” Nicole prayed the kids would understand.

After a few seconds of silence, Roy heard chairs moving on the kitchen floor. He peeked in to see what was going on. Johnny and Nicole were kneeling between the chairs of the quadruplets with their arms wrapped around the kids. Mayan sat on Nicole’s lap. All five of the kids were crying. He watched as the family grieved together praying that the Lord would give them the strength to get through it.

It was about five minutes later when Michael sat up in his chair. “Mama, dada, they in heaven, right?”

Not sure what her son was thinking, Nicole nodded.

“Well, they run and happy. We miss them, but if Jesus wants them, it ok. He help us not miss them as much.”

“Un huh. ‘icheal right. Maybe we get to go to heaven soon and see them.” Matthew sat up in his chair, too. “Jesus will take care of them.”

“Yeah, it ‘eautiful there. They have fun.” Michaela was just glad her sisters were not in any pain from all the owies.

“Can we plant ‘lowers for them?” Megan, too, was glad her sisters weren’t hurting.

~We plant flowers on grave?~ Mayan understood what was going on. He had seen a lot of his friends from his special school go home one day and not return. A year ago his best friend had died and Nicole had taken him to the funeral. She had taken him to the grave a week later and helped him plant a flower there.

~Yes, we will. We will plant something special for them.~ Nicole was amazed at the strength her children had.

Roy looked at Joanne who had the same look of amazement on her face that he did. They were all here to help the Gage family get through this, but he had a feeling that the Gage family was going to help all of them get through it instead. He was still standing in the same spot when the quadruplets toddled through the door followed by Mayan. Johnny and Nicole soon followed with the triplets in their arms. He took Mark from Johnny and led the way to the couch where the quadruplets were already the center of attention. He stopped as he heard Michaela’s voice.

“’Lanie and ‘Lindy ain’t comin’ home.”

“Oh, they aren’t?” Chet had knelt in front of her and was having a hard time keeping his voice from breaking.

“No, Jesus wan’d them in heaven. They angels now.” Megan took up where her sister left off.

“They sure are angels.” Mike had picked Megan up and was holding her close.

“We goin’ miss ‘em but they happy all time now.” Matthew sat down between Kimberly and Rebecca.

“Yeah.” Marco had trouble getting past the lump in his throat.

“They aren’t hurtin’ no mo’e and they went sleep down here and woked up in heaven with Jesus. It ‘eautiful dere.” Michael had found a seat on Hank’s lap.

“You’re right, Michael.” Hank was finding it difficult to keep the tears from flowing.

Nicole collapsed into Johnny’s arms as they listened to their children talk about their sisters. She still felt like it was all a bad nightmare and that she would wake up soon. Johnny held her tight as the tears streamed down both their faces. Why was this happening to them?

Every one of the adults had tears in their eyes as they thought about what the Gage children had said and watched as their friends grieved.


Things had finally calmed down and the quadruplets and triplets had just gone down for their naps. Chris had taken Mayan out to take care of the horses. Roy kept an eye on his friends as he answered the door. He was surprised to see Vince standing on the front porch.

“Roy, I’m sorry, but I need to talk to Johnny and Nicole.”

“Sure, Vince, come on in. They are in the living room.” Roy stepped out of the way as Vince entered the home.

Johnny looked up as he heard the two men enter the room. “Hey, Vince. I was just thinking about you. I wanted to ask you about the other people involved in the accident. What happened to the drivers of the cars that hit the van? And, and,--what happened to the driver of the van?”

Knowing how deeply Johnny and Nicole cared about other people—even people they didn’t know—he wasn’t sure he really wanted to answer Johnny’s question. “There were no survivors.”

Johnny just nodded as he realized there were others that died in the accident that claimed the lives of his twins.

“Um, Johnny, I hate to ask this of you, but I really need to you come down to the station and identify the girls’ bodies.”

“Why, my crew found them and we all recognized them.” Mike couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It was bad enough that Johnny and Nicole had to live through all of this, they didn’t really need to see the condition of the two girls’ bodies.

“Because there were identification cards in the van that state the girls were the daughters of the driver. Since there were also identification cards for the other seven victims, no one believes it, but we need you to positively identify the girls to make it final. I am really sorry about this.”

Johnny and Nicole looked at each other and then at Vince. Nicole was the first one to find her voice. “That’s ok, Vince, we understand. We’ll come with you.” Everyone watched the myriad of emotions that played across both Nicole’s and Johnny’s faces. It was only a moment later that the Gage’s were following Vince out of the door.


Johnny was a little concerned about Nicole. She had been very quiet since they had returned from the police station. The only people she had talked to were the children. She had hugged each one of them a little longer and a little harder than normal. Johnny knew that Nicole had gone with him because she had to see for herself—just like he did—that it was indeed their daughters. Now both of them knew it wasn’t a nightmare they would be able to wake up from, but reality. Their girls were gone.

Both parents had huge lumps in their throats when each of the quadruplets had said their prayers asking God to watch over their sisters. Matthew had asked God to tell the twins hi for all of them. But it was Megan’s prayer that was the hardest on their parents. She had told God that they would all miss Melinda and Melanie, but it was ok because they knew God wanted the twins more than the family did.

Nicole had gone out to sit on the back porch swing without saying a word to anyone. Johnny was afraid she was withdrawing into herself and he didn’t know how to help her. A short talk with Dr. Brackett had resulted in Roy, Joanne, Dixie and Dr. Brackett staying when everyone else had left for the night. Dr. Brackett was prepared to give Nicole a sedative if he needed to.

Johnny quietly sat down next to Nicole on the swing. She was looking at the tree house Johnny and the twins had completed just three weeks ago. He wondered what was going through her mind.

Nicole leaned into Johnny as soon as he sat down. His fears were relieved when he was startled out of his reverie by her voice. “Do you remember the day that you finished the tree house?”

“Yeah, the girls both jumped up and down so much I was afraid one of them was going to fall and break a leg. They had so much fun helping me paint it and the table and chairs I made them. Melanie helped me put up the curtains you made. She was so particular—the curtains had to be just so.”

“They were so proud of their work and that tree house. It will always be their tree house. They sure were excited about it.”

“I will always think of it as their tree house. I had to laugh when Melinda said that they were going to live in it forever. Melanie was shaking her head so I hard I was afraid it was going to come off. I told them that when they….” Johnny’s voice broke as he remembered that day and the words he said to his daughters. Taking a deep breath, he continued with a soft voice. “…that when they grew up they might find that it was too small for them to live in. Both of them said it would be perfect. They said that way they would always be close to us.”

Nicole squeezed Johnny’s hand. “They will always be close to us since they will always be in our hearts. It hurts so much, but God had a reason for taking them from us so soon. He knows what is best and we never have to worry about them getting hurt.” Nicole was having a hard time talking through the tears that were streaming down her face.

“Yes, it does hurt so badly. But like you said, God is in control. He will give us the strength and comfort to get through this.” Johnny’s tears were flowing as hard as Nicole’s.

“Johnny, do you remember what they said the first time they climbed the ladder to the tree house? I could hear their voices through the open kitchen window.”

“Melanie said that she felt like she was climbing the ladder to Heaven. Then Melinda said that it would be wonderful to keep right on climbing to go live with God. Well, they didn’t have to climb today. I’m sure God reached down and took them home in His hands.”

As Johnny looked into the sky, he saw two stars twinkling. “Nicole, look. I think God is trying to tell us that the girls are happy.”

“I believe you’re right. He gave us those two stars to remember the two twinkling lights we had in our home for the last five years.”

Roy, Joanne, Dixie and Dr. Brackett were all trying to swallow the lumps in their throats as Johnny and Nicole entered the kitchen. All of them had heard the entire conversation and knew that it would take time, but eventually the hurt would lessen and the memories of the girls wouldn’t bring pain, but happiness.


Roy and Joanne kept close to Johnny and Nicole the day of the funeral. Both of them were holding up fairly well, but over the last three days there had been times they had broken down. The hardest time had been when the news came that both girls had been sexually abused and beaten before their deaths. Johnny and Nicole had both cried for several hours. The DeSotos wanted to be there in case they broke down again. As they sat at the front of the Church waiting as people quietly entered, Roy thought back to the evening visitation that the Gage children had been brought to in order to give them a chance to say goodbye to their sisters. Mayan had pulled Johnny off to one side of the room when he saw his sisters. Roy had kept an eye on the two of them as Johnny pulled his son into his embrace and they both cried for a long time. Nicole and Joanne had been talking quietly to the quadruplets. It was when the group joined their father and brother that the family was able to smile even a little.

Michaela had walked over to her father. Putting a hand on Johnny’s leg, she looked into his sad eyes. “Dada, ‘lease don’t be sad. Lanie and Lindy go sleep on pretty pink pillows and wake up with Jesus.”

“Yeah, Dada, they run and happy all time now.” Matthew had put his small arm around his brother’s shoulders. ~’Yan, they ok. Don’t cry.~

With a sad smile for his father, Mayan hugged his brother. ~You’re right. Thank you, Matt.~

Roy’s thoughts were brought back to the present as Jim, Bob, Brandon, Bill, Kent, Andrew, Patrick, John, Greg, Rich, Craig, and Charles took their places to be the pall bearers. Russ had volunteered to share the crews’ feelings about their “Nieces”. He sat with the others. The fact that they had gotten special permission to wear their dress uniforms showed how much they really cared about the girls.

Mike, Beth, Hank, Emily, Chet, Kimberly, Marco and Rebecca sat in the row behind Roy, Joanne, Johnny, Nicole and Mayan. Dr. Brackett and Dixie sat beside Nicole while Dr. Early and Dr. Morton sat at the other end of the row. The medical personnel were really there for two reasons. Yes, they wanted to say their goodbyes, but they also wanted to keep an eye on Johnny and Nicole.

The minister had talked about the girls’ short lives and how their smiles and love would fill the church every Sunday. He told of some of the girls’ escapades that had kept the Sunday School workers on their toes. He ended by saying that everyone would miss the two bright spots, but they all knew the girls were running and walking with their Lord. Johnny and Nicole were laughing through their tears.

Then Russ walked to the podium. The tears were streaming down his face. He took a deep breath and got his emotions under control. “Melanie and Melinda were ‘nieces’ to all of us at Stations 51, 14 and 24. They would brighten the mood of a room just by entering and showing their love. We are going to miss their contagious unconditional love. As much as we wanted them to stay with us, the Lord wanted them home. I would like to read a poem that I believe demonstrates the belief Johnny and Nicole hold that the Lord is in control of all things. It is called:

For All Parents
I'll lend you for a little time, a child of mine, He said.
For you to love while he lives, and mourn when he is dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three.
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?
He`ll bring his charms to gladden you, and shall his stay be brief,
You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.
I've looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes, I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love, nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call, to take him back again?
I fancied that I heard them say, Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness, we'll love him while we may;
And for the happiness we've known, will ever grateful stay.
But shall the angels call for him much sooner than we planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes, and try to understand.

“Melinda and Melanie were also two very brave little girls and it is because of them that other little girls are safe.”

Johnny and Nicole shared puzzled looks. They had no idea what Russ was talking about. Johnny put his arm around Nicole as Russ continued.

“During the time they were gone, one of the girls was able to dial 911 and hide the phone so the dispatcher could listen in. The police arrived about five minutes after they had left the home. But because of that one act, the police were given a description of the car and the kidnapper. They got a solid lead on the man who was terrorizing little girls and their families. But it didn’t end there. What has not been told anywhere yet, is that a witness to the car accident said they noticed the two girls fighting with the driver trying to get him to pull the van over to the side of the road. The van was driving sporadically and the police were trying to pull it over. The van they were riding in collided with two other cars and we are here today. They wouldn’t want us to be sad, though. They would want us to remember their smiles and know they are happy.”

Russ stopped to take a deep breath. “And to help us remember their courage, the LA County Fire Department and the LA County Sheriff’s Department would like to honor them. Captain and Mrs. Gage, would you please come up here.”

Johnny and Nicole made their way to the platform not knowing that everyone else on the three crews knew what was coming. They noticed that Hank Stanley, Chief McConnikee and the LA County Sheriff’s Commander had followed them.

Hank traded places with Russ. He looked at Johnny and Nicole and smiled. “Melanie and Melinda may have only been five, but they were braver than a lot of adults I know. And to thank them for their sacrifice, the LA County Fire Department is bestowing the Medal of Valor on both girls.”

Before they had a chance to react, the LA County Sheriff’s Commander had stepped up to the podium. “And the LA County Sheriff Department is bestowing their Medal of Valor, also. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet your daughters, but from everything I have learned about them in the last few weeks, I would have been proud to know them. Their courage and sacrifice are a testament to your love and training. We are truly sorry for your loss, but thank the girls because what they did saved some other little girl’s life.”

Johnny pulled Nicole into his embrace as the tears she had been able to keep at a minimum until now flowed down her cheeks. His tears joined hers as they thought about what the girls had done. After a couple of minutes in which the entire church was quiet, Nicole pulled out of Johnny’s embrace and accepted the medals that Hank was presenting to them. When Hank pulled her into his embrace, Nicole knew that with the help of their “family” and friends, they would make it through the difficult months ahead.


Instead of a meal after the service, Nicole and Johnny had invited everyone out to the farm. Everyone had said that someone else should take care of that part of the day, but the Gages insisted. As they started arriving, everyone understood. Instead of remembering their death, Johnny and Nicole had planned a picnic to celebrate the girls’ lives. The banner on the front porch read “For our special Angels, Melinda and Melanie. May your love always help us to remember”. As the afternoon wore on, there were more laughter and smiles than looks of sadness. The girls were remembered for all the things they had done in their short life time that would touch someone else’s heart forever.


After everyone but Roy and Joanne had gone, Johnny and Nicole sat on the couch in the living room. They were reading some of the sympathy cards they had received. In one was a poem that they had heard several times, but as they read it again, they knew that this was one of the times, the Lord was carrying them. They knew there were be some very hard days ahead, but they also knew that the Lord would carry them through those times.


One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it. "LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me." The LORD replied, "My son, My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
Author unknown


There were many times over the next couple of months when everyone had a very hard time with the loss of the twins, but with the help of each other, the Station 51 “family’s” pain lessened a little more each day. As Brandon Stoker prepared to graduate from paramedic training, everyone focused on the positive things happening in the lives of the younger family members. It would still take time but each day became a little easier.


December, 1984

When Brandon Stoker was ready to graduate from the paramedic program, he was elated, sad and frightened. Not only had he grown up with the men his father had served with at Station 51, he had been part of Station 51’s A-shift crew under his “Uncle Johnny” since his graduation from the Fire Academy. He was elated that he was going to be paramedic, a job he had learned to love watching John Gage and Roy DeSoto. He was sad that he was going to have to leave the station he loved working at because there wasn’t an opening there. He was frightened because he wasn’t sure that he would ever find the close family feeling that had been a part of the Station 51 A-Shift since the beginning. The original A-Shift crew had that same feeling at all three stations, but Brandon knew that it was not the norm in the department.

Brandon had been pleased when Peter Swanson had been promoted to Engineer and the firefighter opening had been offered to him. He had secretly wished that either Jim Standish or Bob Carden would have wanted to try for a different position so that a paramedic position would open at 51s, but they were both content for the time being and Brandon would have to be assigned to another station.

When Johnny called him into the office to give him his new assignment, Brandon started debating with himself as to whether he really wanted to make the change.

To be continued in Heroes

Please send any feedback to